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A Separation: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Katie Kitamura
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Separation.
This section contains 802 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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A Separation: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

A Separation: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Separation: A Novel by Katie Kitamura.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Kitamura, Katie. A Separation. Riverhead Books, 2017.

A Separation is a novel told in a generally linear fashion. It is written in the past tense and is told in the first person from the perspective of the unnamed protagonist. The unnamed protagonist is a woman who lives in London and works as a translator. She is married to a writer named Christopher, who is in his forties and has gone to Greece to do research for his new book, which is about mourning rituals around the world. One day, Christopher’s mother, Isabella, calls the protagonist and asks her to go to Greece to look for Christopher, as she has been unable to contact him. At this point, Christopher and the protagonist have been separated for six months due to Christopher’s many infidelities. The protagonist has started dating a man named Yvan. The protagonist agrees to go look for Christopher, but she secretly intends to ask him for a divorce when she finds him. She flies to Greece and arrives in a small village called Gerolimenas. She goes to the hotel in Gerolimenas where Christopher had checked in, but he is not there. At the hotel, the protagonist meets two employees: a man named Kostas, and woman named Maria. When the protagonist introduces herself as Christopher’s wife, she can tell by Maria’s reaction that Maria is jealous. The protagonist suspects that the womanizing Christopher likely slept with Maria.

The protagonist spends the next day looking through the belongings that Christopher had left behind in the hotel. She waits around the hotel for Christopher to return, but after a while, she hires a cab to take her around the village. The cab driver is a man named Stefano, who is a friend of Maria and Kostas. The protagonist impulsively claims to Stefano that she is in Gerolimenas to research a book about mourning. After Stefano takes the protagonist around the village, they go to the home of his great-aunt, who is a professional mourner for Greek funerals, and the great-aunt demonstrates the ritual. Later, back at the hotel, the protagonist sees Stefano and Maria talking, and the protagonist can tell that Stefano loves Maria, while Maria does not feel the same way. In a later conversation with Maria, the protagonist learns that Christopher was rumored to have had a brief affair with a woman in nearby Cape Tenaro. That evening, the protagonist and Maria have dinner together in the hotel restaurant. Maria asks many questions about Christopher, and after the meal, the protagonist asks Maria if she slept with Christopher. Maria, somewhat ashamed, admits that she did.

The next day, Christopher’s body is found in a ditch by the road, and the protagonist is called to the police station to identify the body. Christopher was killed by a blow to the back of the head in what appeared to be a random mugging. The protagonist returns to the hotel and informs Christopher’s parents, Isabella and Mark, who fly out to Greece immediately. The protagonist decides not to tell Christopher’s parents about her separation from Christopher, nor about the fact that she was going to ask for a divorce. The protagonist does not wish to make Christopher’s parents feel any added pain.

Mark and the protagonist go to the police station and inquire as to the investigation into Christopher’s death, but the police chief says that they have no suspects. The protagonist wonders if Stefano could possibly have killed Christopher in order to eliminate him as competition for Maria’s affection, but she dismisses this idea as a vague suspicion. Later, the protagonist calls the police chief and tells him about the rumor that Christopher had had an affair with a woman in Cape Tenaro, but the police chief says they looked in to this, and the woman had no boyfriend or husband who may have killed Christopher out of jealousy.

The protagonist goes with Mark and Isabella to look at the place where Christopher died, after which they all return to London, taking Christopher’s body with them. Due to the fact that Christopher died before the protagonist could even ask for a divorce, the protagonist feels as if she is still somehow married to Christopher, or at least obliged to him and his parents. Therefore, the lingering sense of irresolution acts as an impediment in her relationship with Yvan. Months after leaving Greece, the protagonist receives a call from Isabella saying that, as Christopher’s wife, the protagonist has inherited three million English pounds from Christopher. The protagonist feels obliged to accept the money in order to maintain the pretense that she and Christopher had not been separated.

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